x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Organic market is Ripe for success

A new local organic fruit and vegetable market sold out within two hours of opening in Abu Dhabi.

Becky Balderstone, the founder of Ripe, sells vegetables at a market in Abu Dhabi.
Becky Balderstone, the founder of Ripe, sells vegetables at a market in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // A market selling locally produced organic fruit and vegetables proved so popular with shoppers when it opened in Abu Dhabi on Friday that all 75 boxes of produce were sold.

About 200 visitors visited the Ripe market, which was held in the Desert Garden Centre next to the Park Rotana Hotel from 9.30am to 11.30am. Within those two hours, everything was bought.

"I was really impressed by the first day of the market in Abu Dhabi," said Becky Balderstone, the founder of Ripe, which opened a similar market in Dubai's Garden Centre last month. "I never expected everything to sell out so quickly.

"It went really well but I will definitely be bringing much more produce next week. I'm thrilled by the turnout."

All the produce was hand-picked from three farms in Liwa, Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain 48 hours before the market opened.

The boxes on display, costing between Dh80 and Dh130, included produce such as courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, basil, parsley, potatoes and peppers.

"The cucumbers, the melons and the organic free-range eggs were very popular among Abu Dhabi residents," said Ms Balderstone.

Although the Dubai market received 600 visitors last month, Ms Balderstone said the lower turnout at the Abu Dhabi market made it more personal.

"It wasn't too busy so it was a good way to talk to people about the produce they prefer," she said.

Customers, said Ms Balderstone, had left happy. "They loved it, it had a very nice community market feel to it. We absolutely need this here because all the expats miss that local market they have at home."

Organic greenhouse farming increased by 15 per cent last year, generating more than 5,000 tonnes of produce..

"The concept of organic produce is becoming popular because it's becoming more available," said Ms Balderstone. "People always wanted it before but, through the right concept, we're able to offer local organic vegetables at affordable prices."

The market will take place in Abu Dhabi every Friday and in Dubai every Saturday until around June from 9.30am to 1pm.

cmalek@thenational.ae